Things that are obvious: cereal tastes better with milk, the sun is hot, and it’s illegal to break the law. What else is obvious? Doing whatever you can to live sustainably. Does it always get done? No. That’s why we’re here to give you this checklist of all of the obvious things you can do to be more green in your apartment to really own sustainability.
Another thing that we think you should know, if it isn’t obvious yet, is that we at Toggle® want to make everything about renting smarter. Smarter renters insurance, smarter perks, smarter energy usage. And let’s share this stuff out with the world. Your neighbor may look smart, but let’s make sure. Knock on their door. Teach. Encourage. Double-check. Whip up enthusiasm throughout your entire building and become a model community of a sustainable apartment living utopia. Time for the checklist (below):
Are we seriously asking you to read a blog about the importance of owning a blue recycling bin? Well, yeah. Because it’s essential. On a scale of 1 to obvious, recycling is 100% obvious. Not procrastinating until your lease is almost up to finally procure a recycling bin? Not as obvious, apparently. Currently, only 32% of people recycle (Source: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). The biggest problem appears to be not getting your household recycling program going right away. Grab one of those trash cans with split sides—one for trash and one for recycling—this will get your recycling system going. They save space and help save the planet. Here’s an extensive recycling guide from our BFFs at the EPA.
You’d think requiring all residential building managers to provide recycling would also be obvious. Nope. Not every local government does. If your apartment complex does not, you can speak to your landlord. If they’re eco-un-interested, you can petition your neighbors, research your local recycling costs, and drop some basic math on them and get a program going in your building.
Your parents have been telling you to save water. Their parents told them to save water. That’s obvious. What isn’t apparent to everyone is that a large portion of the country is in a water crisis. Ask California. Let’s get our conservation mindset on. You can still brush your teeth. Just don’t leave the faucet running; advice as old as toothpaste. Some people even put their water in the fridge instead of running the faucet until the water gets cold. Helps.
Single-use plastic bottles are an obvious no-no. They’re expensive and they are a big slap right in the face to Mother Nature. Avoid plastic. Go with a glass or stainless steel reusable water bottle.
Now if you step into your shower and look up, there is this interesting metal thing that sprays water out of it: the shower head! The bigger the holes in the shower head, the more water it will use. Install a cost effective water-saving shower head. It’s less pressure on the environment and solves low water pressure issues in the shower. For an apartment friendly shower head, make sure to choose a non-permanent water-saver. Most are.
We knew a goofy guy who would wear his clothes in the shower so he could save water. Entertaining, yes. But a bit extreme. When you run a load, you could take a load off the environment by putting the settings to cold water, instead of the “hot” setting. Modern laundry detergents are made to work just as well in cold water and they significantly reduce energy consumption1. If your building has a shared laundry dungeon, you should still be able to adjust the settings.
Eco-obvious granddaddy: air conditioning is a big energy suck.
Air conditioning. We love it. It feels good. It also isn’t the most eco-friendly way to cool off. Everyone knows that. It releases about 100 million tons of carbon dioxide molecules into the air each year. We aren’t sure how to actually visualize that, but apparently, that’s a lot of carbon dioxide. AC makes up 12% of our home energy usage (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). Let’s make this percentage lower. Instead of blasting the AC, blast a ceiling fan, box fan, or tower fan. One study found that using ceiling fans with occasional AC use compared to AC alone resulted in 76% reduction in energy consumption. Definitely not-so-obvious info.
So if you must occasionally use the AC during the summer months, run it during the hottest hours—during the day—and open your windows to take advantage of cooler evenings. A fresh evening breeze is much more relaxing than the buzz of the AC.
Lesser known is that you can use medium-colored curtains to block any harsh sunlight from quickly heating a room. Just explain to your sunbathing cat that they’re taking one for the environment (and also Toggle On℠ our pet renters insurance add-on, called Pet Parent®, in case they lash out at the walls). Triple-woven thermal curtains and blackout curtains are triple better for blocking the sun. They are also great for when you stay out too late the night before.
Insulation in the walls. Yes, of course, obvious (pink, fluffy, but oh so snuggly). But windows, especially older ones, are notorious temperature thieves. Consider installing thermal insulation over your windows during the cold winter months. Plastic sheeting kits can be found at your local hardware store. You would seal the entire window around the frame, tape it down tight, and blast it with a hair dryer and shrink it to fit. Snug as a bug in a rug, after that.
Less obvious is how energy efficient cozy time can be. Fuzzy socks. Oversized knee-length sweater. A giant duvet. Bundle up and crank down the thermostat. Send things into snuggle overdrive by lighting candles (always remember to blow them out when you leave the room). The cozier things get, the more money and energy you’re saving.
Cottage-core. Ever heard of it? It’s when people live like the industrial revolution never took place—fetching water in pails, cooking over fires in hearths, using candles, embracing natural lighting, and wearing clothes made from coarse linens. They love it because it’s charming, romantic, and next-level efficient. It looks good on Instagram but is a bit over the top. We’re an insurance company, so we’re not going to encourage living by candlelight and fire. We are going to encourage LED lighting, though.
You should expect eco friendly apartments to come equipped with LED lighting. If yours doesn’t, switch the old light bulbs to LED bulbs, or get LED light strips for extreme eco-illumination. LED lighting is way better for the environment because it uses 75% less energy than old-school lighting, letting you save on your electricity bill. Good-quality LED bulbs can last 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs, and you can take them with you from place to place. They last that long.
Bonus: not-so-obvious sustainable tech upgrades.
Need other ways to be more green without protest-chaining yourself to the front gate of your apartment building until your landlord agrees to install solar panels? With not-so-obvious sustainable apartment tech, of course. Ready for the sequel to the 1999 masterpiece Smart House? It’s called “Smart Apartment,” and it stars you. Not only does smart tech for your apartment offer more convenience, but it also has environmental benefits.
Just like LED bulbs, smart LED lighting is even more green (and smart, obviously). It can also be purple, red, orange, and any other hue you desire. Simply screw in the bulbs and control them on an app from anywhere. You can also put them on a timer and trigger them via plug-in motion sensors. Utilize the effect features that many smart bulbs have to turn your apartment into a German-style, super cool, Euro-warehouse rave.
Smart plugs? Also a thing. You can use a smart plug or an entire smart power strip to control and automate nearly any electronic device of yours. Schedule a table lamp to only be on when you’re home. That’s lit! Have a fan start to cool down your apartment right before you get home. Turn off your electronics on standby from an app when you forget to slay those power vampires. Some have energy usage alerts to keep your energy costs in check too.
Since we have you here protecting the environment, we might as well remind you to Toggle On Tech Coverage to help you protect all this new tech of yours now too. You’ll want to cover yourself in case of a power surge or if you wake up to a living room aquarium.
While this blog was centered around the obvious, we hope you learned something new. Maybe it was all brand new for you. That’s perfectly okay. We don’t judge. What’s important is that you feel inspired (and reminded) to customize your apartment with these eco-living suggestions. For renters insurance with extra customization, visit GetToggle.com. We love to see our customers helping to protect the world while we help them protect themselves. It makes us feel so happy and warm on our insurance insides.